Just how much evidence is there for evolution? Most creationists would likely say none or very little. The average evolutionary biologist would, of course, say that the evidence is overwhelming. If posed to a hypothetical creation scientist, which answer do you think they would be likely to give? In at least one case, the shocking answer is the latter.
Evolution is not a theory in crisis. It is not teetering on the verge of collapse. It has not failed as a scientific explanation. There is evidence for evolution, gobs and gobs of it. It is not just speculation or a faith choice or an assumption or a religion. It is a productive framework for lots of biological research, and it has amazing explanatory power. There is no conspiracy to hide the truth about the failure of evolution. There has really been no failure of evolution as a scientific theory. It works, and it works well.
I say these things not because I’m crazy or because I’ve “converted” to evolution. I say these things because they are true.1 [emphasis in original]
This claim is repeated in a book Wood coauthored in 2019 with Darrel Falk, the former president of the heretical organization BioLogos.2 Understandably, Wood got a lot of backlash within the creationist community for that statement, to the point he was asked to explain himself. His explanation was that he meant evolution in the “standard conventional sense.”3
What does he mean by “standard conventional sense”? He means both changes in allele frequency (how common a gene is in a population) and common ancestry.4 He accepts the former and rejects the latter but thinks there is good evidence for both. Why then does he reject molecules-to-man evolution? A 2009 blog post of his tells us, “Please don’t idolize your own ability to reason. Faith is enough. If God said it, that should settle it.”5 In other words, even if all the evidence is against you, don’t try to think it through: just believe!
This is not the only time Dr. Wood has explicitly rejected that reason has a role in Christianity. In his book The Quest he makes the following statement:
The reason I am not a rampant skeptic, a Richard-Dawkins style scoffer, is because of my own personal, purely subjective experiences with the risen Lord Jesus Christ my savior. This isn’t anything I can logically defend. It is my own experience. Yours may be different. I can’t account for your experiences, but I know what mine are. This is where I part company with a large part of our logic-worshiping society. “You can’t base your thinking on subjectivity! It’s not logical. You’re being irrational! You can’t have a conversation with someone else who thinks differently if you’re going to rely on personal experience!” I’ve heard it all before, and I don’t believe any of it.6
This is not the only time Dr. Wood has explicitly rejected that reason has a role in Christianity.
He goes on in the following pages to cite Job and how logically bad things should not happen to good people and that the relationship Christians have with God cannot be explained with evidence. Of course, he is assuming “good” people actually exist.
This perspective is at least partially fideistic. Fideism is a philosophical perspective that claims faith is opposed to reason. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines it as follows: “In contrast to the more rationalistic tradition of natural theology, with its arguments for the existence of God, fideism holds ... that reason is unnecessary and inappropriate for the exercise and justification of religious belief.”7 According to fideism then, reason and faith are either opposites or they at least frequently contradict one another. Dr. Wood himself has rejected the label (almost no one willingly terms themselves fideistic). He does believe that you can make sense of the evidence.8 However, according to what he’s written, the evidence leads to evolution,9 therefore he must apply pure faith to remain a Christian in the face of the evidence.
This approach is antithetical to Scripture. Romans 1:20 makes it abundantly clear that man knows that God exists and that he made all things—not by evolution, but by supernatural means. There is no excuse. Dr. Wood’s counterpoint to this would be that theistic evolutionists believe that God exists and that he used evolution.10 What he fails to realize is that people who believe this are syncretizing two diametrically opposed religions. Michael Ruse is famous for admitting as much, and even when trying to downplay the damage, Ruse could not help but admit that evolution could be extended into a secular religion.11 Therefore using the logic that Wood urges us to avoid, they cannot be coequally combined. One must be subservient to the other, and Scripture is frequently made subservient to evolution.
Further, Dr. Wood’s list of evidence (when he cites any at all) for evolution in his 2018 book, The Quest, includes things like feathered dinosaurs, the whale series, and so-called transitional forms, among others. Yet as John Woodmorappe pointed out in a 2019 book review, all these things have been dealt with for years!12 Like other leading individuals aligned with the YEE movement, Dr. Wood has a strong propensity to play up the evidence for evolution and downplay the evidence for creation, something both Woodmorappe and Dr. Hebert of ICR have noticed.13
Even if we presume that all the so-called evidence for evolution has not been satisfactorily dealt with, making the claim that the evidence favors evolution is not helpful to the man in the pew.
Even if we presume that all the so-called evidence for evolution has not been satisfactorily dealt with, making the claim that the evidence favors evolution is not helpful to the man in the pew. Dr. Wood himself appears to acknowledge this. In The Fool and the Heretic, he refers to a hypothetical Aunt Myrtle character whose faith is shaken when a theistic evolutionist, such as his coauthor Falk, tells them the Bible does not mean what it says in Genesis 1.14 He also refers to Aunt Myrtle’s hypothetical grandchildren who may leave the faith because the Bible does not mean what it says.15 Yet he apparently does not see the parallel that he does the exact same thing he accuses Dr. Falk of doing! What does “Aunt Myrtle” (or her grandchildren) hear when Dr. Wood comes to their church and tells them there is gobs and gobs of evidence for evolution? They hear that what the Bible says in Genesis 1–11 is false. They may not hear any later nuance, nor do they understand the difference between allele frequencies in populations and goo-to-you evolution. A self-proclaimed Christian creationist is telling them the evidence supports evolution, something they know is not in the Bible anywhere. It’s not hard to imagine what will happen next.
All of this brings us back to the original “gobs and gobs” claim. There are significant questions as to why young-earth creationists would have such a high view of evolution and such a low view of their Christian brothers’ work. Speculating is unproductive, but what is clear is that the “YEE movement” uncritically accepts many promulgations of evolutionary scientists with little to no substantial critique. Because of a borderline fideistic approach to Scripture, they must then jam as many of the evolutionary promulgations as possible into the creation model. This fideistic tendency, lack of discernment as to the damage it causes, and unwillingness to accept the scientific conclusions of fellow believers combine to produce statements like “there is gobs and gobs of evidence for evolution.” It’s simply not true.
Claiming there is gobs and gobs of evidence for evolution actually flies in the face of the evidence and effectively ignores decades of creationist scholarship.
There are some evidences which, when interpreted through the evolutionary worldview, can be framed as supporting evolution. However, many of these evidences (things like homology, fossil sequence, speciation, etc.) are quite easily accounted for by a biblical model as well. Other so-called evidences for evolution are either false (ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, vestigial organs, etc.) or represent degradation of function (e.g., antibiotic-resistant bacteria). Other things are incompatible with an evolutionary model as well (soft tissue in fossils, irreducibly complex organisms/systems, etc.). Claiming there is gobs and gobs of evidence for evolution actually flies in the face of the evidence and effectively ignores decades of creationist scholarship. As Dr. Woodmorappe says, “No one questions the fact that creationists have mysteries that they are in need of solving. However, mixing evolutionary ideas with creationist ones, having a high view of the claims of organic evolution, and largely ignoring the work that creationists have already done, is not the way to go about it.”16
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.